Lights, camera, empty? Movie theater audiences are dwindling across the United States, leaving an industry battered by streaming services, lingering pandemic fears and cost concerns.
A recent study reported by The New York Times and conducted by Quorum, a film research company, shows that 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers do not return to the movies.
[TRENDING: Cruise ship with COVID-19 infections arrives in New Orleans | Video shows Range Rover burst into flames on I-4 in Orlando | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
And while 70% of the more than 2,500 people polled said they would be sad to see theaters disappear, the industry continues to roll out red carpets to tumbleweeds, seeing theaters emptied even before the end credits. does not have the chance to ride.
Many beloved theaters in Central Florida have also felt the impact of the pandemic punch.
Janie Pope, director of development and public relations at Enzian Theater in Maitland, said shutting down for four months at the onset of COVID-19, then opening and running at half-capacity for almost a year, have hurt business.
“It all came to a sudden and unexpected end,” said Pope, who was hired in 2019 at the height of the Florida Film Festival. “We said to ourselves: ‘Wait, is this real?’ … Going from a fairly regular sale at full capacity, which could contain between 210 and 220 people per session, to a closing and then a reopening at half capacity with the stigma attached to it … It really hurt a lot.
Some of the reasons viewers don’t return include security concerns related to COVID-19, price sensitivity and an archaic theatrical experience, according to the study.
Survey participants were divided into five different groups based on how often they went to the theater, two groups – eager participants and those unlikely to return, even in a post-pandemic world – sandwiching the spectrum.
According to the study, those who still attend theaters tend to be wealthy white men who lean for Republicans and have no issues with vaccination warrants, while those who may never return are mostly women. low-income rural, ethnically diverse and with low immunization rates.
For the Enzian, the Eden Bar, a place next to the cinema offering alfresco dining and drinking, was the balm when these people stopped entering.
“Restaurants were starting to see these people coming back, but there was still this stigma of staying inside for a few hours and watching a movie was still kind of a taboo during that time, and that was before that. vaccines are really being exploited aggressively. “said the Pope.
The Enzian was also coming to terms with requisitioning Netflix content once exclusive to theaters and distributors holding their titles, delaying new releases.
Pope said that the premiere of “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” in July 2021 was the first “explosion of rejuvenation” the theater has seen since 2020, with new content drawing crowds.
Data collected by the film research firm, led by Cultique and Fanthropology, reveals that offering rewards programs, lower costs for concessions – like popcorn and soda – improved seats, large-format screens, and indoor dining with bolder menu items would likely attract people to the theater more.
Local arthouse gems, like the Enzian, are already reaping pre-pandemic benefits, such as benefits for members and in-person mixers, tastings, and events.
Filmmakers, directors and actors are joining the movement of movie theater owners and workers, like Pope, to encourage audiences to support cinema, which is an art form in itself.
“These are the kinds of experiences that you get your friends together for… you’re going to show up and buy some popcorn and you have a beer and you hang out and talk about it.” And you’re just having a good time and it’s its own very new experience that you can’t recreate anywhere else, ”Pope said.
The Enzian, which now has 75% of its capacity, has seen increased ticket sales and regular sold-out programming over the past year.
“I think once (the audience) comes back and experiences it, they remember what they missed, don’t they? Said the Pope.
Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.